Tu B’Shevat, the new year for trees that falls on the 15th day of Shevat, often slips through the calendar barely noticed by anyone other than religious school children reminded of the day by a treat bag filled with dates and figs. But this year, the Pittsburgh Jewish community will have the opportunity to use the festival as a chance to become a bit more “green.”
Jewish Earth Day, sponsored by Community Day in Squirrel Hill, with the help of a grant from the United Jewish Federation, will showcase environmental speakers, foods and wine from the Holy Land, and an environmental resource fair Monday, Feb. 9, from 7 to 9 p.m. at the school.
“The idea was to celebrate Tu B’Shevat in a way that made sense for people today,” said Mara Kaplan, organizer of the adults-only event. “The environment is obviously a very important issue. The question is, is the environment a Jewish issue, and if it is, what is our responsibility to do something?”
Those in attendance will learn about the accomplishments of Kibbutz Lotan, located in the desert near Eilat, which has initiated a variety of cutting-edge environmental programs, and is teaching others to do the same.
Dr. Jonathan Weinkle, a local pediatrician with a strong interest in the environment, will speak about the effects of the environment on one’s health. And Richard Wice, a professional environmental consultant specializing in restoring land water and ground water resources, will speak about the genesis of environmental laws in the Torah.
The resource fair will feature about a dozen nonprofit organizations, teaching people how to take small steps toward helping improve the environment. Each organization has donated an item for auction, including a rain barrel, an energy efficiency bag, and a gift basket of garden items.
Kaplan said she hopes people will come away from the program with the commitment and know-how to begin moving toward a healthier environment.
“These will be things you can take away, right away,” said Kaplan. “You don’t have to change the whole world.”
The program will also include olive oil tasting, Israeli wine tasting, and other refreshments made up of the seven species traditionally eaten on this day: wheat, barley, grapes, figs, pomegranate, olives and date palm honey.
The event is free and open to the entire community. Babysitting will be provided by reservation. R.S.V.P. at
(Toby Tabachnick can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)